Who We Are and What We Do
In a brainstorming/strategic planning session in 2013, the many residents who attended gave their thoughts. All were enlightening and encouraging but the one that stuck was that Randlin Homes is an organization that is “Renewing Heroes and Restoring Hope” We do that through offering Help Opportunity Praise and Encouragement to meet the challenges of life, overcome the barriers and offer a lighthouse in the storms of life to empower them to move on to self sufficiency.
As one student/resident put it “Randlin Homes is a place that allows me the opportunity to achieve a better quality of life. What I do with it is up to me”
Niron, an Army Veteran who has been with Randlin Homes for over 3 years and lives in one of our transitional homes with 2 other veterans, is now certified in computers through Northcentral Technical College where he will be getting an Associates Degree in Computer support. When Niron first started school he described Randlin as “A place that gives people a hand up, not a hand out”
A Desert Storm Veteran said “Randlin Homes was there when everyone else had given up. Without them caring like they have I would be dead”
Randlin Homes offers a comprehensive recovery, training and transition program in a family enviornment to people who have had struggles in life that are ready to change and help others in the process. We are often the last resort for people who who others turn away but we aren’t afraid of a persons background if they are committed to make their future different than their past.
Randlin Homes was founded as a 501 (c)(3) in 2001 by Linda Larson Schlitz – Employment and Training Counselor, Gary Albrecht – Local Area Veterans Representative, Ralph Schlitz, Jr. – Resident Program Manager, and Heather Schreiner – Pharmacy Technician. The founders saw those with chronic mental illnesses, and/or dependency problems and related criminal involvement that were falling through society’s cracks in disproportionate numbers. Since the inception of Randlin Homes, the founders have shared their confidence in the responsiveness of others to this need and have continued to agree with Psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger when he said that “There exists the potential for people to change and have the ability to make a positive contribution to society.”
In 2001 residents were placed at Randlin Homes by Premiere Recovery alcohol and drug recovery unit and the agency was paid $1200 per month per resident. Most residents were there for at least 3 months and the Schlitz family volunteered most of their time to make ends meet. One by one staff members were brought on that had personal experience with being homeless and/or were recovering from alcohol and/or drugs and were offered room and board, transportation and financial support for personal needs. The first of several VA Per Diem Grants was written and was denied but the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Trust became our biggest supporters.
In 2003 the first transition home was opened for two residents who were ready to move to the next level but had realized their need for ongoing supervision and support. More apartments were opened as residents left the licensed home on 10th Avenue and eventually we began transitioning people directly off the street or from the salvation army, jail and prison cells, hospitals and detox centers into our new apartments.
In 2005 Randlin Homes received the donation of a historical home that would not have been best utilized as a transitional home so it was sold and the income was used to purchase a 6 bedroom on South 4th Avenue in Wausau.
By the end of 2007 the agency was operating two 6 bedroom homes and 5 apartments but as the job market waned and funding became even more difficult to come by, the agency began looking at ways to become self-sufficient. Business enterprises became the saving grace of our Reintegration Assistance Program.
In May of 2010, with the generosity of Crossroads Community Services, the Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin and BA & Esther Greenheck Foundation, we were able to purchase a 20 bedroom home on a land contract which houses the student/residents that operate the businesses which has enabled us to maintain the beds in the homes that we have today.
In July of 2010, with help from Marathon Savings Bank we entered into an agreement to lease the three apartments(two homes) next door to the 20 bed to home to house the veterans and their families that were transitioning from one of our facilities or from an outside referral. He have assisted 4 families in being able to reconcile their families, regain visitation and even custody of their children after getting help and support from Randlin Homes in the Marathon Savings Bank Homes.
The Reintegration Assistance Program (RAP) In addition to becoming self-sufficient as an agency, the intentions of the RAP Program and Enterprise Businesses was to serve as a one year education and training program designed to provide the student/residents social, educational and vocational skill development that will offer the best chance at recovery and long term self-sufficiency. We believe it takes at least a year to “get well” after returning from war or having spent many years living on the streets, in homeless shelters, jails or hospitals. This program gives them a chance to rediscover their personal assets, find a sense of purpose in a very positive environment, give back to the community and most importantly develop HOPE for the future. The RAP program first evaluates each student’s interests, abilities, skills and values to determine a career path to consider as well as a treatment program for those with mental or physical health illnesses or substance abuse issues. This is an “each one teach one program” and we utilize professional volunteers and minimally paid staff and the residents themselves as “life coaches” to provide support in their recovery. Our goals and previously observed results have indicated that this program has had a positive effect including:
Academic achievement evidenced by pre and post tests and attainment of the Employability Skills Certificate from the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and the National Career Readiness Certificate offered by ACT. Initial training of the NCRC will be evidenced by improvement on the KeyTrain online program.
0ur training program started in August of 2008 with a brat fry fundraiser at Walmart and soon after we were asked to rake leaves for a disabled Korean Veteran. Our residents volunteered to do yard care and shovel snow, and do small engine repair. Seventy five community members responded with generous donations.
By the end of 2008 we found ourselves with so many donations that had been given for our veterans to transition with that we couldn’t keep it all. With such an outpouring we got to thinking that maybe we should open a thrift store.
In March of 2009, with the rest of the money from the home that had been donated, we were able to purchase the Camelot Cleaner Building at 1006 North 6th Street in Wausau where we opened the Randlin Thrift Store and Training Center. An addition of student/resident and volunteer artwork led us to the name Randlin Gallery of Hope Thrift Store that began with a flea market type atmosphere with a war but has
By August of 2009, just a few months after opening, we were so packed with goods that we asked Arden Emmerich to let us use a small section of his warehouse to store the overflow until we could sort it through. He generously let us use the building on 8th Avenue and Sherman Street from that time until the end of 2011. It started out to be just a small storage area and ended up taking over the whole building of over 12,000 square feet where we were making nearly $300 a day in sales. Unfortunately utilities for a building that big was cost prohibitive.
With furniture being our biggest money maker, we submitted a request to Dudley Foundation to purchase a Truck for us to transport the generous donations of furniture and to offer much needed moving services to our community. This has been a tremendous asset to not only pick up and deliver items but to help people move as well. Assisting families in dealing with estate settlements and moving has been mutually beneficial.
In November of 2011 we opened the Randlin Bridges of Hope Furniture Store on the corner of 1st Avenue and Bridge Street where we feature top quality furniture and household items as well as antiques and collectibles. The exposure was great but by the end of 2012 it was obvious that we were just breaking even given the cost of overhead for the building. We closed the Bridge Street Store in March of 2013 and opened the Randin Occupational Training Center at 4317 Stewart Avenue but we just did not have the funding to market it adequately to make it profitable soon enough so we downsized to a more manageable level.
Randlin Homes is planning to be an icon not only in Wausau but in other places as well. Though like any organization or business we struggle but we do not give up. We certainly need more supporters and leaders to help us move the organization forward. We plan for clearer vision and more staffing to make it happen. We look to continue building our “field of dreams” because we already know that if we build it they will come. We will press on! Please join us in making our student/residents and Randlin Homes successful!